Travel expert Charlotte Buie shares her itinerary from her recent trip to Hawaii with Trip Sense readers.
Day 1: Oahu/Waikiki
Hotel: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu
This is the oldest hotel on the island, built in 1902 or so. I was in the main building street side. This was a bit noisy, but room was spacious and clean. There is a resort fee here (as in most of the hotels) but they had free bottled water and an hour of long distance calls per day. It is a beautiful property with a big banyan tree giving shade to the bar/patio area. The patio leads directly on the beach. Towels are available at the property for free but chairs/umbrellas must be rented.
This beach is super busy (all beaches are public). It’s not a wide beach, but the sand is nice and off-white in color. Water is a beautiful blue, but was not clear (almost like the waves kept the white sand constantly churned up). There were lots of surfers as well (North Shore has the bigger waves in the winter, Waikiki has better waves in the summer). Surf boards and paddle boards are available to rent and lessons are available as well. They even have a surf report with the morning weather on the local news!
The Westin sits right on the main street of Kalakaua Ave. This street is lined with hotels, shops (from high end like Dior to surf and tourist shops), and lots of restaurants on both sides. Duke’s seemed to be one of the most popular. It’s an open air bar/restaurant right on the beach (it is located inside the Outrigger Waikiki). It was so packed I couldn’t even get a seat at the bar! I walked around the area on my own at night and felt completely safe. Waikiki an amazing place, you have the very busy streets, the hotels and then the beach.
Day 2: Pearl Harbour and City Tour
I booked my tour through Monograms. The tour of Pearl Harbour itself is very well done. They have a visitor centre and museum with a short movie before you take a short boat ride out to the memorial. It is a very somber place, and they like to say a place of reflection. The city tour portion is a drive around downtown Honolulu with a stop at the King Kamaamaha statue and the Iolani Palace for photos.
Day 3: North Shore and the Polynesian Cultural Centre
This tour was booked through Viator. We were picked up at the hotel and off we went. The driver was very informative. This is where I found out that the famous waves of the north shore have a season. The best time for those looking for the big waves is usually November through March. It was very calm when we went through. We stopped at the Dole plantation on the way there, the Pineapple Whip ice cream was to die for!
The Polynesian Cultural Center has “villages” that represent the 7 Islands of Polynesia with a parade at the end with dances and songs. They offer a luau option here as well.
Day 4: Flight to Maui
I flew to Maui with Hawaiian Airlines on an inter-island flight. Check bags are $25.00. It was a quick flight with good service.
Hotel: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
2605 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina
This is a huge resort. The rooms were large and clean. They have a sunset show with a cliff diver every night. Luau option here as well. Great for families. Snorkeling galore. The hotel is built next to “Blackrock” an outcropping of rock that people jump off of. At 7am the people were streaming down the beach with their snorkel gear to this area. The water was so clear I could see fish in the waves as I walked down the beach.
The Sheraton is also within walking distance (15-20 minutes) of Whalers Village. This is a good sized outdoor mall with shops and restaurants. There is a pathway along the beach which was decently lit at night. The Sheraton also offers shuttles to Lahaina which is again a nice area with more shops, restaurants and some nightlife.
Golf: Although there are a few courses right at the Sheraton, I played Kapalua. It was about 20 minutes from the Sheraton (about a $30.00 cab ride each way). Club rentals are available. The PGA has played there in the past. Amazing views, nice club house, and decent food! You can book tee times on line or give them a call directly.
Day 5: Road to Hana Excursion in Maui
It is a full day and takes you on a ride to the other side of the island on some very twisty roads along some sheer cliffs. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was awesome. You can to see waterfalls and different landscapes that make up the island. If you are going to do it, sit behind the driver to get the best views. People on the other side of the bus didn’t get the same experience. I was looking out the window and down the side of a cliff to the water, when all they could see was the normal view of the ocean and seaside. Gravol is a must for those who get car sick. It is a long day, but well worth it.
Day 6: Haleakala Crater
This one was kind of ‘vogged’ out (fog created from the volcano on the Big Island that drifts over). You drive up to 10,000 feet on a windy road to the observation centre. The clouds and vog rolled in so we didn’t get to see much, but was still pretty neat to be above the clouds.
Days 7-14: Big Island
Hilo: I was visiting family here near Hilo. Hilo is a cute little town with a western feeling. Lots of cruise stops happen here. From Hilo we went to Volcano National Park. I would advise making sure your visit extends until after dark. We didn’t have time for any hikes onto the lava field, but there are lots of trails and tours available (day trips are available from Oahu, I saw quite a few groups). I was impressed with the Volcano itself, but at night it is absolutely spectacular! The clouds and vog rolled in and I didn’t think we were going to see anything and suddenly I noticed the glowing crater. It was rainy and foggy and the view was still stunning. I can’t imagine what it would look like on a clear night. A must for anyone visiting the Big Island.
Hotel: Hilton Waikoloa Village
69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa Village
We stayed one night at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, another large resort. Connecting rooms were available. Rooms were large and clean, great for families. They have dolphin encounters available. There is also a little coved beach area for snorkeling, lots of pools.
Luau: I finally did my Luau here at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. It was fun. They had “Kalua Pork” that they dug up from a pit, and of course poi, which is pretty tasteless and gluey. Lots of singing and of course hula dancing. It was expensive, but how could I not do a luau!
Tip: I flew with Air Canada and United Airlines both ways, with a stopover in Los Angeles. There’s a 6 hour time difference from Toronto to Honolulu. A stop is highly recommended.
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